Save Our Forests
* Once woodland has been sold, the public will no longer have any automatic "right to roam" on the land
* The "right to roam" laws do not include riding
* Selling public woodland will dramatically reduce riders' rights to ride, force more and more riders on to increasingly dangerous roads and even force many riders to stop riding altogether.
It's not all over yet
Further thoughts from Steve Yandall
My Parliamentary representative, and Lib/Dem lead on DEFRA,Mr Andrew George has written a very illuminating letter which should add perspective to the forestry consultation.
I will not publish Mr George's letter but will refer to it.
Within Mr George's points ,and my overview, please be mindful that there are two major initiatives to consider:
1.the obvious leasehold sale of a public asset. 2.the first example of Aarhus compliance driving a consultation process on a national level(and probably ever in the UK despite becoming statute in 2005).I would suggest that this a far more important issue than point 1 and indicative of our current governments will to drive public involvement in environmental matters.
The starting point is that we will retain ownership as the consultation promotes leasehold ,not freehold, and our current rights(inc.equine/bycycles)will be robustly protected both in terms of the contracts and the target of leasing to local interest groups.
Everything we would expect of the Forestry Commision will be enshrined with the addition of the innovation associated with independent ownership.We thus face the prospect of returning to the micromanagement which built local character whilst retaining the best attributes of public management.
To put the sale in context we must recall that our previous government; 1.sold off 25000 acres of forest with no consultation and little protection of public interest. 2. " " " " " " " " reference to Aarhus compliance. 3.had plans to commercialise the public forestry estate in 2009.
And the current oppositions; 1.attempt to obstruct public consultation by tabling a debate at the launch of the consultation document/process. 2.failure to recognise the public right to consultation and participation that was statute through several years of their governance.
The nub of the issue is that the consultation process must ensure that no downside exists
IF leasehold sales are progressed. IF we achieve that there is no reason to view the leasehold as anything other than positive.
<< Andrew George MP
It is for US to exploit this unique opportunity for consultation presented via a coalition government supporting environmental democracy.
It is also for us to question WHY New Labour did not adopt this new democracy? I fully support the leasehold of this massive national asset but would have resisted a straight sale and urge all interested parties to exchange views and to participate in the consultation process.
Progress,opportunity and benefit all exist within this initiative and it is for us to create accountability for delivering our expectations!
What do you think?
Do you agree with Steve?
Send us your views and opinions.
Hands Off Our Forests
Says Craig Weatherhill
"Taking all in all, there seems to have a consistent determination by the last government to ignore the requirements of the Aarhus Convention. The same government's determination to erode public rights may well be related. "